24 February | 2024

Lahore, Pakistan

Cindy McCain to lead WFP as world confronts ‘most serious food crises’

‘I am ready to roll up my sleeves and spend time in field, deepening my understanding of WFP’s vital work, and making sure it continues to grow to meet needs of a hungry world’

ROME/NEW YORK: Cindy McCain, wife of the late US Republican Senator John McCain, will head the UN World Food Program (WFP), a Rome-based United Nations agency, according to a UN announcement.

Cindy McCain is currently the US ambassador to the UN agencies for food and agriculture. She will replace David Beasley, a former Republican governor from South Carolina, who steps down after six years in the role.

In a statement, Cindy McCain said she was deeply honored to be appointed, noting that the agency has been part of her life for decades. WFP’s Executive Board President Artur Andrzej Pollok welcomed her appointment, saying that she was taking over at a moment when the world confronts the most serious food security crisis in modern history and this leadership role has never been more important.

Cindy McCain is the former chair of the Board of Trustees of the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University. She has a long track record in non-profit and humanitarian work, having served on the Board of Directors of Project CURE, CARE, Operation Smile, the Halo Trust and the advisory boards of Too Small To Fail and Warriors and Quiet Waters.

“I am ready to roll up my sleeves and spend time both in Rome and in the field, deepening my understanding of WFP’s vital work, and making sure it continues to grow to meet the needs of a hungry world,” she said. “I can’t wait to work with the incredible team at WFP – their dedication and commitment to a better world is an inspiration to me, and to us all.”

She said that although the road ahead was daunting, and hunger was on the rise, she was confident that “when we come together as one world, we can save lives.” Announcing the appointment at the regular press briefing in New York, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was deeply grateful for Beasley, the outgoing WFP chief’s important contribution and service to the agency.

He said that Cindy McCain was a champion for human rights who has a long history of giving a voice to the voiceless through her humanitarian and philanthropic work. “The increasing number of conflicts, climate shocks and economic turmoil have led to a sharp rise in the number of acutely food-insecure people struggling to get enough food to feed their families – up almost 200 million since before the coronavirus pandemic,” WFP noted in a press release.

WFP provided more than 158 million people with food, cash and vouchers last year, more than in any previous year, and received a record $14 billion in funding, the agency noted. In 2020, the emergency food agency was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.